Video Draws Attention to the Controversial Act of Soring

Footage recently obtained by Animal Wellness Action — a Washington, D.C.-based organization with a mission of helping animals by promoting legal standards forbidding cruelty — shows a horse in Alabama being subjected to soring, a very painful act where the horse’s hoof and lower legs are intentionally injured to produce a high-stepping gait known as the “Big Lick.” A farrier appeared in the video driving hot nails into the tender part inside the horse's hoof, with the trauma later resulting in renal failure for the animal. Though the practice is questionably legal, and he received no punishment for the incident, U.S. Congress is currently considering House Resolution 693, known as the PAST Act, which would ban the procedure entirely. The Act, according to American Horse Publications, "would amend the Horse Protection Act to ban the use at horse shows of devices that are integral to the soring process, eliminate the failed walking horse industry system of self-policing – putting the U.S. Department of Agriculture in charge of the licensure, training and oversight of all inspectors (as recommended by the agency’s Office of Inspector General in a 2010 audit) – and increase penalties for violations."

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California Racetrack Sees 23rd Horse Death in 3 Months

A racetrack in California on Sunday saw its 23rd horse fatality in just over three months, The New York Times reports. Two horses collided at the San Simeon Stakes at Santa Anita Park as they crossed a dirt surface that transitioned to turf, with one horse injuring its leg, then falling and tripping another. The horse that initially fell was later euthanized. The track had been closed since March 3 for renovations on the dirt portion because of the previous fatalities.

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Tennessee Horses Test Positive for Equine Influenza

Tennessee State Veterinarian Dr. Doug Balthaser announced last week that some horses returning from out-of-state events have tested positive for equine influenza virus (EIV), a highly contagious sickness that is spread by contaminated stable equipment and coughing horses. Symptoms of EIV include fever, nasal discharge, cough, loss of appetite and weakness, among others. The Department of Agriculture’s C. E. Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory offers free EIV testing for horses, in addition to screenings for equine infectious anemia, equine herpes virus, equine protozoal myeloencephalitis and eastern equine encephalitis.

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Animal Law Executive Council Member Authors 3rd Book

TBA Animal Law Section Executive Council member and inaugural section chair Esther Roberts has recently authored her third book, entitled "My Friend Sam." The book, described by Roberts as "Marley and Me" with a horse, is about her riding partner of 26 years with whom she shared many adventures, on the trail and off. It is available through Amazon and all major booksellers. Or, if you would like an autographed copy, you can contact Esther directly.

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Lawmaker Seeks Change for Horse Safety

A case of animal neglect in Maury County has sparked questions from a Tennessee lawmaker about how horses are treated under current laws, according to Fox 17. Rep. Johnny Shaw, D–Bolivar, who sits on the agriculture committee, maintains that current law makes it very difficult for rescuers to save abused horses, because of their consideration as livestock and not extending them the same protections as pets and household animals. Shaw has offered the resources of his office — reachable at 615-741-4538; — for anyone who would like to comment on this issue.

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Oregon Lawsuit Argues Animals Have the Right to Sue Their Abusers

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, a legal advocacy organization for animals, has filed a negligence suit in Oregon on behalf of a horse named Justice according to a press release from the organization. Justice was allegedly denied adequate food and shelter for months, leaving him “debilitated and emaciated,” suffering from lice, a prolapsed penis from frostbite and a bacterial skin infection known as rain rot when he was rescued in March 2017.
The complaint contends that Oregon Legislature has declared that animals “are sentient beings capable of experiencing pain, stress and fear,” and as such, are beneficiaries of Oregon welfare laws and are victims when the laws are violated. Justice’s abuser pled guilty to criminal animal neglect in 2017, agreeing to pay restitution only for the cost of Justice’s care prior to July 2017, however, the lawsuit seeks damages for Justice’s care since this date and going forward. Any funds awarded to Justice through the lawsuit would be placed in a legal trust established to pay for his care.
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Ban on Slaughtering Horses for Meat Renewed in Congress

A ban on slaughtering horses for meat has been renewed after a group of bipartisan animal lovers in Congress included it in a massive spending bill that President Trump signed last week reports USA Today. Supporters of the legislation point to a 2012 poll conducted by Lake Research Partners on behalf of the ASPCA animal rights group that showed 80 percent of Americans opposed to the slaughter of U.S. horses for human consumption.
“The slaughter of horses for human consumption is a barbaric practice that must end,” said Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Florida, co-chair of the Animal Protection Caucus, a bipartisan group of more than 100 members of Congress. 
A temporary ban on horse slaughter was set to expire last week until the Animal Protection Caucus convinced congressional leaders to insert it at the last-minute onto page 129 of a sweeping 2,232-page, $1.3 trillion spending bill that Congress passed late last week. The House Rules Committee had earlier refused to allow a separate vote on the provision. “Our American values support the protection of these animals; our federal policies should continue to reflect that,” the caucus wrote in a December letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, and House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J.
The Humane Society of the United States, which has endorsed the bill, estimates that more than 100,000 horses are bought at auctions by people who transport them to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico. "Slaughter is a brutal and terrifying end for horses, and it is not humane," the society says in a statement on its website. "Horses are shipped for more than 24 hours at a time without food, water or rest in crowded trucks. They are often seriously injured or killed in transit."
The American Veterinary Medical Association, however, does not support the ban, citing concerns over what will happen to unwanted horses if they cannot be sold for meat. "Removing slaughter as a humane option will leave many horses with nowhere to go and no one to care for them," the association says on its website. "There will likely be an acute rise in abuse, neglect, and abandonment with corresponding negative impacts on horse welfare."
The renewed ban on horse slaughter in the U.S. will continue at least until Oct. 1, when the just-passed funding bill expires.
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